GOTEBORG, Sweden (AP) _ Kim Batten was looking for respect. She got it, along with a world record and a World Championships gold medal.

Batten, a 26-year-old American from McRae, Ga., edged U.S. teammate Tonja Buford at the line and won the 400-meter hurdles Friday with a world record of 52.61 seconds.

She clipped .13 seconds off the mark of 52.74 held by Britain's Sally Gunnell. Buford was just .01 behind.

Gunnell missed the championships because of injury and watched from the stands at the Ullevi stadium.

``I can't believe it. I never thought the record would go today. It was two girls just pushing each other all the way. It was a magnificent run by Kim and an unbelievable time,'' Gunnell said.

Also missing was medal prospect Marie-Jose Perec of France, who decided to skip the event after sustaining a hamstring injury winning the 400.

The absence of two of the top hurdlers had some critics questioning the strength of the field.

``I knew that to get respect we needed to run very fast,'' Batten said.

Buford finished in 52.62, also below the old mark. Deon Hemmings of Jamaica took the bronze in 53.48.

Batten and Buford set a fast pace from the start and Batten was nearly nipped at the line by the surging Buford. Buford, 24, may have missed the gold by not leaning far enough.

``I leaned as much as I normally do. I was ahead through about the sixth or seventh hurdle. I thought if I could come with her to the eighth hurdle I could beat her, but it didn't work,'' Buford said.

For Batten, it was a dream come true.

``Yesterday I had a dream that I broke the world record. It was the most vivid dream I've ever had,'' she said.

``It was kind of like the race, except I was further ahead. I can't remember the time, though. Everything was pretty vivid except the time,'' Batten said.

She gave the U.S. women their first world record since Florence Griffith-Joyner set the 200 mark at the Seoul Olympics in 1988.

Batten underwent an emergency appendectomy May 20, but returned to take the U.S. title in mid-June.

The only runner to beat Gunnell last season, Batten also is remembered for a bizarre incident at a meet in Lausanne, Switzerland, where she was hit by a pillow thrown by a spectator during last year's race.